What happens to your car when you hit potholes?

Experts advising caution for motorists trying to navigate Winnipeg roads during the city’s pothole plight. Morgan Modjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

As temperatures rise and snow melts, cities across Canada are faced with the annual pothole plight.

Drivers are being advised to take care when navigating the streets because hitting a pothole can do serious damage to vehicles.

“One big pothole can rip the steering wheel out of your hands and then might also cause an accident, so just be cautious and careful,” said Milan Paskas, the owner of Frank Motors in Winnipeg.

“Mostly really what we see are tires, rims, wheel bearings take a hit on it. Some shock, some suspension parts definitely get damaged by that.”

Approach potholes with caution

What’s the best way to approach a pothole if hitting one is unavoidable? Approach with caution, says Paskas.

“What we do suggest to our customers is to slow down if you’re approaching a pothole. Make sure that nobody is behind you, and try to slow down, because you don’t want to get rear-ended as well.

“Try to avoid applying the brake while you’re hitting the pothole if there’s any way possible, just because the weight of the car, if you step on the brake, it’s just pushing the car further into the pothole and it’s just causing more damage than it would help.”

Paskas says his garage gets busier this time of year as potholes appear.

Hitting a large pothole can also have a negative impact on more than just your wheels and underbody. Paskas saying it’s important to monitor how your car is driving after a collision with those asphalt craters.

“If it’s a big pothole, it could also be affecting your steering, your steering wheel might be off centre and that’s definitely an indication to bring into a shop and have it checked out,” he said.

RELATED: Pothole problems: complaints triple in Edmonton to start the year

In a statement, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) indicated if a vehicle is damaged by a pothole, motorists in Manitoba can open a claim by calling the contact centre, with potential pothole damage varying and each claim assessed once reported.

They also encourage drivers to treat puddles, especially in the curb lane, with the same caution you’d treat a pothole and to slow down as much as possible before hitting.

MPI also stresses motorists should be scanning 10 to 12 seconds down the road looking for potholes, and avoid swerving into another lane as it may cause a collision.

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